Saturday 30 April 2016

Pro Tip Blog: Ryu Seung Min on Forehand Footwork (Especially Penhold Players)

Footwork is one of the key elements of high level table tennis and I had the chance for my Pro Tip Blog to get a piece of advice on what you need to focus on to reach the highest levels. Thankfully I went to the best source in my opinion, 2004 Athens Olympic Gold Medalist Ryu Seung Min, the master of footwork. Great advice to help you improve your table tennis footwork!

You can check out my full interview with him here: Interview with Ryu Seung Min and find out what the favourite footwork drills of a handful of international players are in this article: The Most Popular Footwork Drills Among Professional Table Tennis Players.

Ryu Seung Min on Footwork and Penhold
In my discussion with Seung Min about his footwork, he noted that in Korea there was a lot of emphasis put on footwork and movement training and how important it was, particular during times where penhold players made up the bulk of the national team. The forehand was the dominant stroke for these players.

'What players need, especially penhold players, is fast footwork and an aggressive nature. To be successful in matches they need to be confident and to be diligent in moving across the whole table to focus on the forehand. If I wanted to win matches during my career I had to be able to reach every ball with my forehand, no matter where it was on the table.' Ryu Seung Min, 2004 Olympic Champion.

It is also commonly known that forehand movement is a pivotal core element of Chinese training all the way through to provincial and national level. Drills like two point and three point forehand are very common, as well as full table forehand looping off backspin. There are an incredible number of drill variations to help build strong forehand footwork.

Coming back to something me and Ryu agree on is that forehand footwork drills are the best for improving your footwork and movement overall. The point he makes about confidence is also very important. You need to train your forehand footwork to a point where in a match it is reliable and you can be confident to execute the movement and stroke. As Seung Min would know, a fast moving and confident forehand player is very much a force to be reckoned with!

Ryu Seung Min's Semifinal Match in 2004 Olympics

If you are a traditional penholder like Ryu Seung Min then developing full table forehand footwork is even more important and this was something he felt strongly about. Even with the reverse penhold backhand there is still a significant focus on executing forehands as you can see from players like Wang Hao and Xu Xin.

The hardest areas to really master are the pivot forehand 3rd ball attacks and the cross step forehands off the corner. Also being able to move back towards your backhand corner still playing forehands, most players are not as strong in this direction.

Hopefully today's Pro Tip will help you improve your table tennis footwork or inspire you to think more about how much you train forehand footwork in your practice sessions! :)

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